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What is MMS messaging (Multimedia Messaging Service): A Complete Guide

Ever get a text message from a friend that comes with a picture, like a fun-loving meme? Congratulations. You’ve just experienced MMS, better known as the multimedia messaging service.

Here’s what’s in store:

What is the meaning of MMS

Define: Multimedia Messaging Service – Built to expand upon the text limitation of the SMS (SMS stands for Short Message Service) protocol, MMS allows users to broadcast text messages greater than 160 characters. They can also send a multimedia message including audio recordings, images, video and more. 

MMS phone example gif MessageMedia

MMS builds on the success of SMS by making messages appear more visually appealing, resulting in even higher engagement and cut-through. You know the saying a picture is worth 1000 words? Well, when you’ve only got 160 characters to spare, adding MMS may be well worth consideration when deciding on what to use to communicate.

SMS or MMS messaging: Understanding the differences

For those businesses who have seen rampant success with SMS, why should they start using MMS? If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. While SMS messages drive a high open (98%) and response rate (46%) from recipients, MMS can take you to a whole new level with the inclusion of images and GIFs.

Corgi riding skateboard gif
See, aren’t you better engaged now?

The addition of visuals to your digital communications is a widely used tactic for success today. Where once images were seen as a nice-to-have, they have become an essential component of a marketing or social media strategy. Buffer reports that tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets that go without. In addition, over 80% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing.

The same correlations apply to SMS: 


MMS messages deliver a 15% higher click-through rate than SMS
MMS content is 4x more likely to be shared on social media platforms
20% less likely that the recipient will unsubscribe to MMS messaging

And it achieves real results. Let’s look at a famous case study.

BMW MMS Template example

Germany BMW’s 2008 MMS campaign simply wanted to sell more winter tyres with a simple mobile campaign. They chose MMS in order to include a simple image of snow tyres, and the campaign ended up delivering a 30% conversion rate. That means 30% of customers who received the MMS bought the winter tyres and rims that were advertised at BMW dealers. 

But what was the ROI (return on investment) for the business?

While 30% is a great conversion rate, ROI is where we can really see an MMS campaign deliver for your bottom line. The BMW MMS campaign broadcast cost $60,000. If 117,000 customers were shown the campaign, and 30% converted, then 35,000 customers were purchasers. One purchase on average cost $1300, amounting to almost $45M in revenue

 ROI = $758 made per $1 spent.

That’s an incredible amount to be made with the simple addition of images to your campaign! We’re not suggesting that every MMS campaign will knock it out of the park this way, but do dive into the campaign in more depth to see how BMW used MMS to further personalise the journey and experience for customers.

In summary, use SMS for:

  • Urgent updates
  • Concise communications
  • To direct recipients to a link with more information (open letter etc)

Use MMS for:

  • Brand-led messaging that draws customers in with visuals of products, locations or events (think Instagram!)
  • Sending QR codes, tickets, check-ins or maps to customers
  • You just want more variety and dynamic options!

Try MMS now!

We can get you set up in just one call.

Talk to us now

What are the top MMS solution benefits

Although not all situations or campaigns call for its use, MMS is extremely beneficial when designing more intentional broadcasts that require more dynamic messaging.

1. Dynamic media = more engagement

Especially for those doing SMS marketing, images are crucial in engaging your audience and generating long-term brand recall. Studies have shown:


Consumers can retain 65% more information when information is paired with an image
Customers are
44% more likely to engage with content that contains pictures
66% of consumers can recall a specific brand they’ve seen advertised on mobile in the previous week.

With a striking image or catchy video, you can really grab your customer’s interest in your brand and message. Animated GIFs and graphics fulfil this role where images are not readily available, particularly for seasonal marketing.

2. Do you have more to say?

We have thrilling news for you. No longer must you ration the 160-character limit of your previous SMS messages! MMS gives you 5,000 characters to play with! 

Bear in mind though, those who receive MMS messages will still have reasonably short attention spans. Our research shows the shorter the message you send to their mobile phone the better. 

WE RECOMMEND: No more than 500 characters for the greatest impact without losing the reader.

3. More value with a subject line

When it comes to MMS, one function not talked about enough is the addition of a subject line. Not only do senders get to have their ‘body copy’ (text) plus an image, you also get a headline of 64 characters. 

Much like we see emails that swarm our inboxes, you can style this subject line to give recipients an enticing prospect of what’s to come. Be really creative here. Create some intrigue, or take them on a journey from top to bottom. If used correctly, it can really entice customers with the right message.

Here are some options to get you started:

“What do you think?”
“You’re missing out!”
“Did you forget this?”
“Earn triple points if you…”
“Limited time only: [insert product here]”
“Surprise! [Insert person] has sent you…”
“Let’s get started!”

RELATED: Like with email, you don’t want to cross the line and make your SMS sound spammy. Read our write-up on how to make sure your messages don’t sound spammy.

4. There’s always a backup

Had delivery failures in the past? You won’t have to worry about that with MMS. Even those few customers whose devices cannot accept an MMS message will still receive an ‘SMS fall-back message’, so your message will always get through.


Try MMS now!

We can get you set up in just one call.

Talk to us now

Final thoughts, further reading

MMS enables greater creativity, more customisation and better results over SMS. Why wouldn’t you try it? Get inspired by how others are using SMS by reading on to Part 2: MMS Messaging Best Practice (with Examples)

Make sure to also check out:

  • 2-way messaging: How SMS chat can create better and more immediate engagement with customers
  • Speed your communications up with text automations – here’s 5 examples to get you started
  • Learn how to customise your messaging for more personalised connections between you and recipients